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PR Week

London, Friday April 21, 2000

What the Papers Say

Penguin picks up moral points in libel trial

In a classic case of the biter being bitten, press coverage of author David Irving's libel case against Penguin Books made the reader almost forget that it was he who had sued Penguin and historian professor Deborah Lipstadt for comments in her 1994 book Denying the Holocaust and not the other way around.

'Racist', 'anti-Semite' and 'Holocaust denier' were descriptions used by the judge and adopted by the press to describe Irving. Although he was given credit for being a 'gifted historical investigator', the verdict and press coverage was [sic] devastating, as Irving was also described [by the press] as a 'liar,' 'falsifier of history' and 'Nazi-apologist.'

Penguin emerged as having taken a morale standpoint in contesting the libel rather than settling out of court. Penguin's Anthony Forbes Watson was quoted as saying: 'There are certain interests that supersede commercial interests.' The costs of the trial brought Penguin back into the press coverage, with a question as to whether it would be able to recover its legal costs.

[See table in next panel]

April 21, 2000
Messages by volume

Penguin was a target of Irving's libel action


Irving is a Holocaust denier


Irving is a racist/anti-semite


Irving has distorted, falsified vistory


Costs of trial (legal bill)


Irving refuses to accept defeat


Nazi apologist, pro-Nazi polemicist


Irving is a gifted historical investigator


Verdict was a victory for truth


No. of Messages

0 minimum     maximum 40
Based on 55 articles from 12-17 April 2000. Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. See

Website fact: The stamina of the defence team was aided by a six million dollar fund provided by Stephen Spielberg, Edgar J Bronfman, and the American Jewish Committee, which enabled them to pay 21 lawyers and "experts"; the experts like Evans, Longerich were paid up to £109,000 each to testify as they did (while the defence's star legal team was paid considerably more). Nobody was paying for Mr Irving, who has been fighting this battle for three whole years. Nobody was paying for Mr Irving, who has been fighting this battle for three whole years. Nor did he pay his defence witnesses one cent or sous: they testified from conviction, not for reward. [Help!]

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